Sunni bloc boycotts Iraq unity conference

Iraq's main Sunni parliamentary bloc boycotted a national reconciliation conference that opened on Tuesday, delivering a fresh blow to the country's battered political process.

Sunni bloc boycotts Iraq unity conference

The two-day conference is being held ahead of Thursday's fifth anniversary of the launch of the US-led occupation on March 20, 2003.

It also coincides with a visit by US Vice President Dick Cheney, one of the architects of the war that toppled Iraq's former regime, for talks with rival Iraqi leaders and top US officials.

Among those attending the Baghdad conference were Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki and parliament speaker Mahmud Mashhadani, and several other leaders from Shia, Sunni and Kurdish factions.

But the main Sunni bloc in the parliament, the National Concord Front, boycotted the gathering.

'The Concord Front will not attend the conference as we were not invited as a bloc,' faction spokesman Salim Abdallah said.

He said the bloc was also protesting at the way Iraq handled the case of a former deputy minister who was acquitted on allegations of running Shia death squads that killed Sunni Arabs.

Hakim Al Zamili, the Shia former deputy health minister, was freed earlier this momth after an Iraqi court said there was no evidence against him and his ministry's security chief Brigadier General Hamid Al Shammari.

Agencies

Last Mod: 18 Mart 2008, 12:22
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